Comets outlast Mustangs in nine innings, 3-1
|PCM senior Jordan Van Roekel applies the tag to North Polk’s Noah Pickard on a throw from junior Nate Vande Wall in the third inning of the Mustangs’ 3-1 loss to the Comets on Wednesday night in Prairie City. (Shane Lucas/Daily News)|
PRAIRIE CITY — Although it was a much stronger effort from the Class 2A No. 9 Prairie City-Monroe baseball team than the first time it squared off with No. 3 North Polk, Wednesday night offered up another tough loss.
With the game tied at 1-1 in regulation, it took two more innings for a decision between the two ranked teams before the conference-leading Comets earned a hard-fought 3-1 victory over the Mustangs.
“We played a hell of a ballgame, but came up on the short side,” PCM coach Shaun Hudnut said. “What we really talked about with our kids today was just coming in and getting back on the right track and taking the right steps to get ourselves ready for districts.”
North Polk earned an 11-1 victory over PCM (18-7, 11-5 Heart of Iowa Conference) on June 6, and things appeared to be headed in that direction again on Wednesday as the Comets (21-3, 13-0) struck for a run in the first inning. They would largely be held in check by Mustang starting pitcher Alex DeWitte and a strong defensive presence by PCM after that, however.
PCM tied the game in the third when senior Jordan Van Roekel led off the inning by reaching on an error. Two batters later, fellow senior Hutch Burns made the Comets pay for that error by drilling an RBI triple off North Polk starter Jacob Hadaway to knot the game at 1-1, which would be the score that stuck on the scoreboard for a while.
“We felt if we could get one more run in the fifth, sixth or seventh inning, we’d be able to pull it out,” Hudnut said. “We close with some guys on second and just couldn’t come up with a hit.”
The Mustangs had runners reach second in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, but couldn’t get the big hit across. Burns had a long battle of an at-bat with two out and two on in the seventh, but Hadaway ultimately got the best of him with a groundout. Meanwhile, the Comets couldn’t get anything going off DeWitte or his replacement in the sixth inning, senior Joel Wiggins.
“(DeWitte) pitched an excellent five innings and Joel pitched another great four, even though they got the best of him there in the ninth,” Hudnut said. “By all means, both guys pitched extremely well and Hadaway is by far the best pitcher on the road we’ll see.”
Wiggins entered the ninth inning having struck out seven of the nine North Polk batters he’d faced, but a few bad bounces brought the runs home for the Comets. Reed Smith had a two-out single and reached second on a fielding error to get the rally going, and Grant Lang legged out an infield single to put two on.
North Polk senior Noah Pickard was then intentionally walked to load the bases and Zach Easter came up with an opposite-field hit to left that took an odd bounce and allowed the Smith to score from third easily. One walk later, Wiggins got Brandon cory to ground out, but the Comets now lead 3-1.
“It’s just one of those things,” Hudnut said. “That kid is a lefty and the ball usually cuts out there, so it’s unfortunate, but it’s just the way things happen sometimes.”
The Mustangs went 1-2-3 in the ninth to suffer their fifth loss in their last six games. Although it was another loss, Hudnut was pleased to see the improvement from the first time the teams played and is hoping this game brought on some extra motivation for the postseason.
“We just want to see a lot of attitude and effort from the kids, and see some quality ball,” Hudnut said. “We want to focus on the little things in the next few games. The wins and losses will take care of themselves, but it’s more now just getting ourselves focused.”
PCM will head to Pleasantville to take part in a tournament this weekend before wrapping up the regular-season schedule with three non-conference games next week.
North Polk 3, PCM 1 (9 innings)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
N — 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 10 1
P — 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 2
WP: Hadaway (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K) LP: Wiggins (4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K), S: Lang
PCM hitting: Burns 1x3 (3B, RBI, BB), Wignall 2x4, Vande Wall 1x4
More Local News
- Cardinals lose three games in weekend tournament
- Area Roundup: PCM wins West Marshall tournament
- A Tale of Two Games
- Manu Ginobili sparks Spurs to Game 5 win
- Friday's Weather Cancellations